Written by Jo Lowe, Spring PR
Events are a huge part of what we do at Spring PR and the whole team gets involved in the planning, preparation and execution. The success of an event is often judged on the basis of media attendance.
In the past we’ve secured 100 per cent turn out. Here we happily share some of our top tips:
If the powers that be are wanting to launch something that you feel doesn’t warrant an event and won’t grab the interest of media, then speak up. This will save the client time and money and they will respect your honesty and professional advice. It also saves you the embarrassment of inviting journalists to something that you believe isn’t necessary and they will respect you more for it.
What do you want to achieve?
Make sure, from the outset, that all parties involved are clear on what it is that they want to achieve from the event. Is it a networking event to introduce a new brand so that journalists keep the brand in mind for future opportunities, or is it a product launch event that you are wanting coverage from?
Once you have a clear objective on what you want to achieve from the event you can start to draw up your hit list of journalists to invite. Ultimately keep your list targeted, focusing on quality over quantity. Less is often more and we’ve found that inviting a select few journalists, mostly working in a freelance capacity, we have obtained the most amount of coverage. To highlight this, we worked with Montane early on this year with the launch of the VIA Trail collection treated with Polygiene (a Spring client). It was a sector-specific event focusing on running and fitness. We had 100 per cent media attendance and bumper coverage to boot.
It’s a date
Do your research and check that there’s no other event happening that might clash. In the past we’ve changed the date of an event because it clashed with something else. After all, you want to give yourself every potential opportunity to secure 100% attendance.
Location, location, location
Select a location that is easy for journalists to get to. So, if you’re holding it in London make sure it is close to a publishing house where your key journalists work, or walking distance to a tube station. Space is important as it needs to be big enough to hold the number of people attending but not too big that you’re rattling around. Once selected it is worth striking up a good working relationship with the venue manager as you will be working closely together.
Journalists are incredibly busy so make sure you give them plenty of notice to pop the date of your event in the diary. Once the initial invitation has been issued, keep a detailed log of who has accepted and who can’t make it, then send out a reminder email nearer the event to those free to attend. Share with your client who is attending on the day prior to the event, along with thumbnail images so that they are fully briefed beforehand.
Time of day
Over the years we’ve organised a range of events in the UK and abroad from breakfast events, so that journalists can pop in prior to getting into work; after work launch parties; all day events, plus those that involve an overnight stay. Find a formula that works for you and the specific event you are holding but bear in mind that journalists need to justify being out of the office for any length of time.
It’s vital to provide those attending an event with clear instructions on where the event is and how to get there. We often handle the bookings of trains/flights or offer information on the nearest tube station in order to save the journalist this task. In addition, by providing an itinerary and a kit list, when needed, the journalist will feel prepared for the event and more likely to attend as feels important and looked after.
Following on from the Montane/Polygiene event we held we received the following testimonials for some of the journalists who attended. From both the client’s perspective and ours the event was a success.
“The trip was very well organised and I was impressed at how much we were able to do in a short space of time, which meant that even coming from London for one day was worthwhile”, Nick Harris-Fry, Coach website
“I was invited along to the Montane/ Polygiene event on behalf of Run247 and Outdoor Fitness magazine. Spring were excellent at communicating about travel, accommodation and the itinerary for the day and I felt really well looked after before and during the event. The event itself was a great mix of learning about Polygiene, and their collaboration with Montane, and the actual activity to try out the products. We had a fantastic run for a couple of hours in the Lakes. It was what you always hope these events are going to be, but they rarely are! It was one of the best events like this that I have been to – I went away feeling like I knew a lot about the brands and that I had a few different angles to write articles on, but also that I had a really fun day”, Kirsty Reade, Outdoor Fitness and Run 247, The Guardian.
“The Montane/ Polygiene event was very informative and more importantly fun. The planning and communication in the lead up meant that I had everything I needed for the day and I was able to concentrate on gathering the information I needed from the presentations. I can’t thank Montane, Polygiene and mainly Spring PR enough for such a great day”, Davy Wright, My Outdoors.